I wrote last week of the folly of the $250K caps on medical malpractice pain and suffering awards that were recently proposed. That proposal is now getting blasted. Below are brief excerpts, and the reader is invited to click the links to get the whole nine yards instead of my little outtakes:
From today’s New York Times comes an editorial (Medicaid and the N.Y. Budget: A Bad Deal on Malpractice):
The proposed cap would apply to “non-economic damages.” Patients could still sue for the cost of their medical care, the value of wages lost and other economic costs. But their ability to recover damages for pain and suffering would be limited to $250,000 from every provider found guilty of malpractice. That hardly seems enough for patients who might face a greatly diminished quality of life because a negligent hospital or doctor left them blinded, paraplegic, brain damaged or gravely disfigured for life….
…The best solution is to greatly reduce the errors and bad outcomes that can lead to malpractice suits.
From Denis Hamill at the Daily News (Doctor with disabled son is no fan of governor’s plan to cap malpractice suit):
When Dr. Lora Ellenson, a pathologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, looks at Gov. Cuomo’s proposed $250,000 cap on pain and suffering malpractice awards, she diagnoses the issue as a doctor – and as the mother of a son with cerebral palsy due to negligence….
…Had the Ellensons not won a malpractice award well above the proposed $250,000 she would have had to quit her job to stay home with her son every day…
…I ask Ellenson if she could have raised her son in a comfortable world on $250,000.
“Absolutely no way,” she says. “I continue to believe, as a practicing physician, that the way to curtail medical costs is not by further victimizing victims of malpractice, but to put in place mechanisms and systems in hospitals and doctors’ offices to minimize risk to patients.”…
From the Times Union of Albany (Let Juries Judge Malpractice):
If a baby is born with brain damage because the mother’s obstetrician doesn’t arrive at the hospital until hours after he’s called and no one on the hospital staff notices clear signs that the fetus is in distress, should that mother have the right to sue the doctor and hospital?…
…But proposals are now being put forth in New York — at the instigation of health care special interests. These proposals would limit our rights in such cases in significant ways. Instead of protecting us, they would protect negligent physicians and hospitals. And, in considering these proposals, there was no one at the table representing the victims of negligent doctors…
…Caps on awards are simply the health care industry’s way of insulating negligent doctors and hospitals, preventing their victims from receiving the compensation they deserve and removing the deterrent effect that justifiable awards can have. These proposals will not save the state money. They will not reduce Medicaid costs because Medicaid does not fund malpractice awards. (more)
Here is our latest “How To of the Day” submission to WikiHow:
If you are a wealthy hospital executive or lobbyist and want to do something extra special for your members, like protect them when they kill or injure children, things may be looking up for you in states where the GOP has taken over. But what about a State like New York, where the legislature (or at least part of it) actually cares about protecting the rights of the sick and injured and ensuring patient safety? This is not so easy! But get ready, cause there’s a solution:
From Joanne Doroshow, Center for Justice and Democracy (NY Hospital Execs Try to Change Medicaid Rules Behind Closed Doors):
Whatever has been going on behind the closed doors of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team,loaded with self-dealing lobbyists and hospital executiveswho make Wall Street level salaries, it’s time for New Yorkers to say enough.
Many have already complained about how this Team has been dominated by hospital and industry lobbyists, with consumer or patient advocates mostly excluded. Now we find out that these lobbyists are using this process not to save Medicaid money, but to execute a backroom deal that could create a financial windfall for negligent hospitals, incompetent health care providers and their insurance companies….
And what do the proponents of tort “reform” offer? They trash trial lawyers. One classic example comes from the constantly lawyer-bashing New York Post. Incapable of mustering actual public policy arguments, it reverts to calling anyone that represents a patient an “ambulance chaser.” That’s what you do when you can’t defend your position, you wage personal attacks. The medical malpractice hoax was exposed long ago. It also ignores the fact that the New York State Bar Association, which includes both defense and plaintiff’s lawyers among its ranks, trashed the “reform”arguments big time.
If you are aware of intelligently written pieces on the subject, preferably newspaper editorials,please let me know.